Thursday, December 10, 2009

Re-post: Enough

Re-posting a note about "enough," a post I did a while back. I think it has some relevance to the current series that we are doing at called The Blessed Life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Blessed Life: A Heart of Generosity

The "bag" is not enough.
The "basket" is more than enough.
The ''barn" is infinitely more than enough.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to watch this week's message from before reading on- click on this link to watch.

From time to time, Craig will take us through these kinds of messages, those that demonstrate a progressive level of commitment to Christ. In this message, the bag mindset is what we were pre-programed with, and the barn mindset is that which we hope to posses.

Most of us have a hard time graduating past the bag mindset because the bag equals security. it equals comfort. it equals our control of our lives. moreover, it seats money on the throne of our lives. If we don't have enough in the bag, we strive to spend less or make more so we can live the lifestyle that we want, have the security we desire, and to ultimately live comfortably. The foremost problem with the bag mindset is that the bag and what it contains is the lord of our lives, and not God.
The funny thing to me is that as tightly as we cling to the bag in our hand, God has already given us a basket and a barn. In order to experience barn blessings, we have to let go of the bag, because the barn requires stewardship (for it all belongs to Him anyway), and you can't steward the barn with a bag mindset. But a change of mind requires a change of lordship over our lives.

When God is on the throne of our lives, we turn to Him for all of our needs - He is our provider. Yes, this is difficult because it requires FAITH- and not just faith in faith, but faith IN God. And it is not blind faith or faith with out reason. He is faithful, and we can trust Him. Because His ways are higher than our ways, because He loves us, because He is a good God, we can trust Him- even when our prayers are not answered the way we wanted Him to, even when tragedy comes, because He is sovereignly in control, working all things together for those that love Him, that are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). As long as Christ is not King of our lives, we will continue to endure disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, and discontentment.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Matthew 6:24.

Closing thought: Our money has the words "in God we trust" written on it. Shouldn't this be a reminder to us that it is God whom we trust, and not money?
Which one will we serve? can't have it both ways. How have you experienced the change from the bag mindset to the basket or the barn mindset? Share your thoughts- many of you reading this may be like me, just now becoming aware of our condition, and desiring to take steps towards trusting God and not money.

Monday, November 30, 2009

the importance of authenticity

Here's an exerpt from the current Christian Research Journal about the importance of authenticity of our faith in Jesus - great article! authentic. The importance of this became clear to me when a young
nurse named Maggie, who had experienced abuse at the hands of people who claimed
to be Christians, began attending our church. Soon she was part of a small group
of spiritual seekers who were meeting with a Christian couple to investigage
faith issues. Maggie ended up writing this poem about those two leaders:

Do you know, do you understand
that you represent Jesus to me?

Do you know, do you understand
that when you treat me with gentleness,
it raises the question in my mind that maybe He's gentle too.
Maybe He isn't someone who laughs when I am hurt.

Do you know, do you understand that when you listen to my questions and you
don't laugh,
I think, "What if Jesus is interested in me, too?"

Do you know, do you understand
that when I hear you talk honestly about arguments and conflict and scars
from your past
that I think, "Maybe I am just a regular person instead of a bad,
no good little girl who deserves abuse."

If you care, then I think maybe He cares-and then there's
this flame of hope that burns inside of me and for a while I am afraid to
breathe because it might go out.

Do you know, do you understand that your words are His
That your face is His face to someone like me?

Please, be who you say you are.
Please, God, don't let this be another trick.
Please let this be real.

Do you know, do you understand
that you represent Jesus to me?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Blogging: where i've been and where i'm going

As my rookie-year of blogging is coming to a close, I thought I'd take few lines to share some conclusions about the whole experience. When I started, I really had no idea what I was getting into. I had an unrealistic expectation that I would have hundreds of followers, just dying to read the next awe-inspiring post by Yours Truly (slight exaggeration... good thing I can laugh at myself!).

Seriously though, I had an expectation that each of my posts would have at least ONE comment, but the past year shows that that experience was the exception, and not the rule. I often thought, was my post not interesting enough? Did people not like the topic? My conclusion or opinion?

To help justify the existence of this blog, I tried many things. I used twitter to notify the world when I had a new post. I then linked my blog to facebook, so it would update my status when I added a new post, and then would tag my facebook friends, hoping that they would read and leave a comment (annoying, I know... sorry :\ ). I even signed up with a website that monitors activity on a particular website, giving information about how many visitors the site was receiving. There was traffic on the site, which was a good sign, but I was frustrated that no one was leaving comments. Combining my comment-frustration with a lack of post ideas that I wanted to write about and time to produce them lead to the practical flat-lining of my blogging life.

This is where I've been the last few months, and why I haven't posted very often. At the same time, I think this time off has been good for me. I have learned some things about blogging that I didn't realize before, and am ready for a new blogging season. I've learned that most people, including me, don't like to read long blog posts, nor do they have the time. I've also learned that blogging doesn't necessarily have to be for my readers--- it can be for me.

I'm looking forward to re-entering the blogging world, recharged and focused. It's time to do the things I once did, to remember why I started this blog in the first place:

a collection of my thoughts, notes from time with God, embracing the life that i have been given and yearning to ignite a generation for Christ, to awaken the apathetic, and to be a catalyst that takes Christians from luke warm to absolutely on fire, to bridge people to the love of God through relationships, to lead people to the indescribable joy of calling Jesus their Lord and Savior, to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. leaving the gray

I'm hoping you'll read along with me, and maybe even add your thoughts. Comments or not, my greater hope is that you run after Jesus along with me, that we would seize the opportunity to seek Him, to know Him, to read His Word and be transformed by it, that we would be the salt and the light of the world that He has made us to be, that we would leave the gray.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Gospel in a nut shell

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved
by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated
and hating one another.4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior
appeared,5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but
because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by
the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ
our Savior,7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become
heirs having the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a trustworthy saying.
And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may
be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are
excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oh, how He loves us...

"Oh, how He loves us, oh - how He loves us..."

... the chorus of a beautiful song that sings the heart of those that know the risen Christ, who have have been forgiven a debt that could never be repaid, who know peace from accepting a pure and holy grace matched by none, offered freely by the One and only one capable of offering such a gift.

So often, we fall into patterns of thinking that our salvation in Christ is associated by our performance of doing the "do's" and avoiding the "don'ts". And though we may have seasons of seemingly "good performances", our flesh will inevitably remind us that we are sinners to the utter core, incapable of living a sinless life.

In these moments, when we are reminded of our humanity, we tend to drown ourselves in remorse, so ashamed of our inability to do that which we are incapable of doing apart from Christ. At times, we may even wrestle with God - though we know that there is no quantity or qualitative sin that He can't and won't forgive, our flesh tries to convince us that we have some how disqualified ourselves from His grace.

I believe this song captures the moment when we finally realize that His grace is sufficient, that it is more than enough for us. When we stop trying to get our life cleaned up, carrying the baggage of guilt, trying to earn God's grace and forgiveness, we experience a freedom that the world cannot understand. We have been forgiven, just as we are, and then we remember that the Lord of heaven and earth, the lover of our souls loves US - EACH of us, uniquely, individually - again, Just..................As....................We.....................Are.

Have you let go of your guilt, your shame, your bondage? The Lord Jesus is able and wants to free you, to forgive you, to save you, to sanctify you, just as you are. Will you let Him? Click on the link below as you consider His amazing love for us...

Monday, September 14, 2009

1 Corinthians, Chapters 2, 3 (NTDRC-3)

NTDRC-3: New Testament Daily Reading Club, Day 3!

Catching up here on 2 days' worth of reading through the New Testament, continuing in 1 Corinthians. Deep and heavy stuff here, but don't let that keep you from discovering what a gem these two chapters are!

Chapter 2 continues the theme from chapter 1 of contrasting worldly wisdom vs wisdom from the Holy Spirit. This is one of those passages that you have to read over and over again to see the beauty of what God is saying through the apostle Paul... Wisdom is simply applied knowledge. Worldly wisdom speaks from worldly knowledge. Though there is much knowledge in the world, it is OF a fallen world, and is incomplete and corrupted by sin. Apart from Christ, we will all revert to humanly wisdom. It is important to note that this passage is NOT a passage that is pinning "hyper-spirituality" against the rational application of knowledge. Rather, it is showing how inept that worldly wisdom is! Paul says it best in verses 10-16.

Chapter 3 deals with the worship of our spiritual leaders. This includes those spiritual giants in our day like; those that we aspire to become, those that lead us to be fully devoted followers of Christ. But these are no different than any believer - they have simply been found faithful with what they were called to do. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, but are nothing apart from Christ. "What, after all, is Apollos: And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God mad it grow." 1 Cor. 3:5-6.

Much more could be said... what about verses 10-23? Did you see a connection between these verses and the previous verses in chapter 3? What stood out to you in chapter 2? Click the comment button below and share your thoughts!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"I'm just not being fed..."

"I'm just not being fed..."

Unfortunately, this is a complaint being expressed by far too many Christians in churches today - the message isn't deep enough for me; I'm not being taught the Word of God; my pastor isn't teaching me the Bible verse by verse...

I believe that these complaints are serious, and should not be taken likely. The church plays a critical role in developing the Body of Christ - no doubt about it. The topic of discipleship is worthy of numerous separate posts dealing with this issue. For the purpose of this post, however, I would like to submit a question to those that share these dissatisfying feelings about their pastor:

Why is it someone else's fault that you are not being spiritually fed?

I would lovingly yet firmly state that if you have a Bible and you can read, you are responsible for feeding yourself.

Never before have we had access to more Bibles, more personal devotion materials, and more means to get the Word of God into our hearts. We now have the ability to receive daily bible verses emailed or twittered to us, daily reading plans - we even have access to view the Bible for free on our cell phones ( With all these things available - not to mention that some in other countries can't get enough Bibles - why is it that we are not taking more responsibility for our own spiritual growth in Christ?

I used to share this critical sentiment against my pastor. For a season, instead of "feeding" myself, i would spend much of my time and energy criticizing my pastor and church because they didn't teach me the Bible, verse by verse. Looking back, I failed to realize that it wasn't my pastor's responsibility to feed me. His job is to equip the saints to do the work of proclaiming the gospel to the world through the spoken and lived lives of the Body of Christ, who live in submission of Holy Spirit's leading.

And there was no doubt that he was doing exactly that - comforting and confronting, bringing the application of God's Word deep into our hearts so that we would be moved, challenged and convicted by the Holy Spirit, and mobilized in to the faithful ministries that God has called each of us to. He simply was operating on the understanding that every believer was feeding themselves, and that he was simply helping the body connect the dots, drawing biblical application, and confronting us with a call to action.

What's more, I had DAILY access to pastors that were gifted to teach the Bible verse by verse, via my radio (, bible study groups, life groups, and about a dozen Bibles and commentaries laying around my house to help me get God's Word into my heart!

To be clear, I believe that the church has a role in the spiritual development of every believer, and there is a season in the beginning of every believer's life where they need spiritual milk, where they need to be spoon-fed. But at the end of the day, when we should already be well beyond milk, when God calls us to give an account for our stewardship of the resources that were plainly available for our spiritual development, every believer is responsible for "feeding" themselves.

There are numerous resources available to help every Christian get the Word of God into their hearts, to help them in their growth and understanding. I would love the opportunity to help anyone needing some help to get started - please leave your questions or comments and I will gladly offer any assistance that I can to help move any honest seeker move towards being a "self feeder."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

1 Corinthians, chapter 1 impressions

"Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." 1 Cor. 1:22-25

This is a snap-shot of the apologetic that Paul is making to the Corinthians regarding the wisdom of God. I don't fully know the situational context which prompted Paul to write on this issue, but regardless, there is much for the church today to learn from.

I believe that he is writing in part to challenge the perception that God only does what he does if it passes thru the filter of our humanly wisdom. Point taken: the depth and bredth of the wisdom of God is complete and perfect; we make human judgements from finite view points, seeing only in part.

Much more here... what did you find significant to you in this passage? This chapter? What is God challenging you with here? Does this give you peace or discomfort with God's wisdom vs. your own?

Share your thoughts, questions, comments!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

fruit happens

Upon doing a word search on of the word "fruit", I found that there were tons of references of fruit in the Bible. Though the context in which the word is used varies, one of the common reoccuring themes is the idea that our lives bear fruit. Reading in Matthew, I found several references made by Jesus about fruit (Matt. 7:17-18, for example).

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we desire for our lives to bear "good" fruit. If we have good fruit, that means we are a good tree, and that we will be pleasing in the sight of God. Jesus said that every tree that bears bad fruit (or no fruit at all) will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So how do we bear good fruit? What do we have to do?

Let me try to answer that question in this way: fruit happens - fruit is not the point, Jesus is. Fruit is merely the result of living out of the overflow of what God is doing in our hearts.

Don't focus on the works of a Christian, but the heart. Abide in Christ our vine, for apart from Him, we can do nothing . When we abide in Him, our heart aligns with His, and we are enabled to do good works which he prepared for us in advance (John 15:4-5, Eph. 2:10).

How do we abide in Christ - and what does that even mean? My defiinition is a continual condition of remaining in Christ, to know the heart and mind of the Lord Jesus through the revelation of His word and to follow His teaching.

The normative process is found through hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Word, and comes to fruition by the personal application in our lives. But we need help along the way. We need those Paul's of the faith to come along side us Timothy's who are yearing to grow in Christ, but just need some help - this is the process of discipleship.

As we walk with Him, we grow, and are all the more focused on Jesus, so much that we don't even realize that we are bearing fruit. Fruit happens along the way when we are seeking God and being transformed into His image. Fruit is not the point, Jesus is.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Profiting from the Prophets

About a month ago, I started reading the book of Daniel in the Bible for the first time. Up until now, I have read the new testament many times, and most of the old testament - but none of the major/minor prophets. So far, I have read Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micha.

It's been kinda fun reading through these books - first of all because I've been reading the snot out of them on the app for my phone, secondly, because I am discovering the roots of my Christian beliefs. Today, for example, I read this passage in Micha 7:18-20:

18 Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold on to His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love.
19 He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show loyalty to Jacob and faithful love to Abraham, as You swore to our fathers from days long ago.

These verses are the last of a book where Micah is telling of God's coming judgement on His people and their sin. Words of hope. Our sins will be forgotten, cast into the depths of the sea. Who is like our God? So many times, I have heard phrases or thoughts like this in songs and sermons and have thought, wow, what a great word! Like the Bereans and Paul's teaching in Acts 17:11, I am spiritually profiting from going to God's word to discover the roots of the Christian faith!

Admittedly, most of the verses that I've read for the first time have not yet registered any significant meaning to me. I recognize that they are contextualized within the history books of the old testament, and will have to set aside some time to really study if I am to grasp all of the richness of each author's inspired words in these pages.

Word of encouragement for the day: read your bibles! You don't have to master every verse and chapter the first time you read it. Let it be process, and enjoy discovering the treasures of this masterfully written and divinely inspired book where God speaks, where we can find hope, and where we find meaning and purpose for our short-lived lives on this earth!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


This morning I was getting my daughter some cereal for breakfast. She is a huge cereal fan, like her daddy, and says to me: "Daddy, I want a lot." She says this, of course, because she is really hungry and thinks that she could literally devour all food in sight. Not sure where she gets this from... But me, being a "professional" parent now of two, understand that she has a small stomach and can only eat a certain amount before she becomes full. And she proves me right every time I give her too much, as we would often have to throw away the cereal that she couldn't finish.

This is not an easy thing to explain to a three-year-old, but once grasped, it will radically affect her view of life. So our dialogue goes something like this...

"Do you have a lot of Buba's or enough?" - "enough"
"Do you have a lot of Daddy's or enough? - "enough"
"Do you have a lot of Mommy's or enough?" - "enough"

So instead of giving her everything she asks for, I give her enough of what she needs - not to much, but enough. And guess what? To her surprise, she was content with enough.

Unfortunately, even as adults we have a horrible time realizing this reality. I imagine that our Heavenly Father shakes his head in amazement at our needless requests for things that we don't need, and the quantities that we ask for. God, please give me more income... God, please give me a bigger house... God, please give me the car with all the bells and whistles... The bible tells us that we have not because we ask with the wrong motives, asking for things to dispose of upon our selfish desires, and not for His purposes (James 4:3). But God not only wants to provide us with our needs, but desires to provide us with good things, for our well-being and benefit (Matt. 7:7-11, Romans 8:28).

And how insulting is it to God when we forget that His grace is sufficient for us, and continually try to earn his favor by works and good deeds, trying to appease God by doing many "righteous" things to outweigh the sin-debt that we are absolutely unable to pay (2 Cor. 12:9)? How quickly we forget that the work of Christ on the cross was MORE than enough for us.

I think Paul describe the concept of contentment in his letter to the Philippians:

"...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13

Find contentment in enough...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Leadership 101: People do what they're lead to do

I've heard my pastor speak several times about leadership within the church world. One of the topics he often deals with is in the form of a complaint from pastors and leaders about their followers. "My people won't _____." The blank can represent a lot of things for church leaders; tithe, serve, go on missions, love one another, practice evangelism, etc. Many times, a leader will experience this frustration, not for lack of communicating the need, but because they haven't lead their people in this area by actually modeling the desired action themselves. A leader can't lead someone to do something that they themselves are not doing. Tough talk, but nevertheless, reality.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch where you and me and everyone else lives, the question arises: "so what?" Well, here's where it applies to me.

Over the last few days, i have experienced a lot of frustration with my 3yr-old daughter. She back-talks frequently, talks very rudely, all with a less-than-desired-tone... Up until now, this has not been a regular occurance, and when it did happen, our usual discipline approaches correct these behaviors. So what do you do when your normal parenting approaches don't work? That's right! You raise your voice, give them the mean parent face, and use every threat you can think of, but never follow through... very inneffective, unproductive, and harmful at best.

So my sweet, loving, meek wife brings this idea to my attention after we had another behavior problem this morning. Not her exact words, but the idea is this: "she is only acting out the way she sees us act out." No way to counter the wisdom of a Proverbs 31 woman... My daugher is doing what I've lead her to do. If I want a certain behavior in her, if I want her to respond a certain way when things don't go well, if I want her to share and be loving to her friends and neighbors - you guessed it. I have to do it myself if I hope to lead her to do the same.

People do what people see. This applies to anyone who has a position of authority or influence on another person - that includes moms, dads, brothers, sisters, co-workers, employees, teammates, and even church leaders :). What is it that your "people" won't do, that you haven't lead them to do?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

testing for pride...

Just the other day I had a friend tell me about recent experience in being humbled. Someone had the courage to show him one of his "blind spots". Instead of digging in his heals and defending himself, he chose to be teachable and allowed humility to produce growth in him.

Where personal defensiveness arises, you can be sure that pride is not far.

Humility is a litmus test for pride. Apart from it, we are not able to discern pride in ourselves. The measure of pride is directly related to the amount of personal pain we experience when we are exposed to humility. The more prideful we are, the more it hurts.

When our confidence, peace and joy are found in Jesus Christ and HIS work in us and others, humbling circumstances will not only be painless, but will further solidify our confidence and joy in Christ our King.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

finding rythm, staying in tune

Over the last month or two, I have been a little out of sync with life. Not quite sure why, but just seemed to be just a count off beat, a little out of rhythm with this current season of my life. For no apparent reason, I often felt despair, struggling to find purpose, experiencing friction in many areas of life, although unnoticeable to many looking on. But every time those feelings came on, I ran hard to God. Each time, He reminded me that in Him I find my peace, my strength, my hope, my purpose, my joy. His provision was enough, yet kept me coming back for more. In short, He sustained me, giving me the kick in the butt I needed to shake the funk that I regularly would fall into.

For whatever reason tonight, I was able to associate all this with being a little out of rhythm in life, often trying to play an instrument that didn't fit the song. Musically speaking, I am not tone-deaf; I know when something sounds out of tune. But in regards to the current season I am in, the current song that my life is playing, I have been most definitely tone-deaf. Wrong instrument, wrong beat, wrong tune.

I'm not quite sure what the song of this season of my life is yet, but I'm catching on to the tune. There is a heavy dependence upon God in prayer; more than I can remember. Also an unveiling of my eyes to see things that I never understood before in scripture, causing me to pour over a few verses for days and days. There is a deepening burden to truly love people. Also an awareness that I don't really know as much as I think I do, realizing that I have much to learn from others, and less emphasis on what I can offer them.

All these things are apart of the song He is playing in my life, the melody. I haven't yet picked up on the lyrics, the message, the purpose of this song, this season, but know that songs are about timing. When the time comes, I am sure that I'll know the lyrics, I'll know the heart of this season. Then, with everything that is in me, I will make a joyful noise, in key, on queue, in rhythm, signing His song for this season of my life.

Teach me Your song Lord Jesus. Show me the purpose of this season. Fill my lungs. I will sing your song with all that I am. I will not be silent.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Bread of Life

Our lifegroup has been going through a Bible study on John chapter 6, and spent our time in group this week on verses 22-40. This passage is about how Jesus addresses the crowd on the Bread of Life.

I found myself spending a lot more time on this passage then I thought possible... So much going on here with the questions and answers being ask by Jesus and of Jesus. Many observations here, but too many for one single blog. Take some time to read this passage, and as you do, consider your answers to these questions:

  1. Read John 6:26... Why do you seek Him?
  2. Read John 6:27... What "food which perishes" do you need to stop working for, so that you have time to work for food that does not perish, "the Bread of Life"?
  3. Read John 6:28-29... How do you (or have you) complicated "working" for the Bread of Life?
  4. Read John 6:29-31... What "signs" have you asked God to do so that you would believe?
  5. Read John 6:35-40... What does this passage say? What is the significance of this reality in your life?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

River of life

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the
Norstand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers." Psalms 1:1-3

The law of the LORD is the river of life. As we stretch out our roots towards Him and His Word, we find life. We find everything we need to grow in Christ from the firtle banks of His Word. Our delight is in doing the very thing that He created us to do; abiding in Christ; to remain planted by the River of Life.

By feasting on His Word, savoring on every morsel, we become nourished. As we are nourished, we become strengthened. Stregthening allows growth. Growth produces fruit in its season. Fruit is returned to the Lord of the Harvest, for His good pleasure and purposes.

The water of everlasting life flows through our veins, producing leaves that do not wither with the changing seasons. His Word continually flows through us as we continually abide in Him.

Abide in Christ. devour His Word. Make the Psalmist' delight yours; find the joy of your life in the hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating, and applying of the Word of God to your life. Submit to His Lordship and find life.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I love the 3rd of the month!

For the past few weeks, i have been reading a proverb a day; the chapter number for the calendar day. Today's reading is Proverbs 3.

Up until today, i would sit in my car before going into work and read a chapter, looking for that one or two verses that I wanted to take with me that day. Today, I am at my desk early, reading proverbs from, an online bible and community. On it, you can read the contributions of other readers, and "star" verses that you would normally underline in your bible.

Most days, i'll read proverbs and find a couple of verses that are noteworthy in my book, and share them with others. Today, that will be hard, because the whole blessed chapter is awesome!

Ever heard the verse, "Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways aknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." it's in Proverbs 3, verses 5-6.

What about this one: "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Proberbs 3, vs 11-12

Want to see more? go to, type in Proverbs 3.

As you read, ask God to challeng you, to show you where these proverbs apply to your life. Don't just read them; study them. memorize them. meditate on them. APPLY them.

Hope you have an awesome God filled blessed day - Let God pour into you, so that He can pour you out on others.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

fruit or the vine?

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." - Proverbs 14:12

As Christians, we desire to be fully devoted followers of Christ, to be found pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. And as a response of sincerely wanting to live the abundant life in Christ that the bible calls us to, we fill our spiritual lives with certain disciplines and activities that are reflective of that which we want to be: fully devoted followers of Christ.

Things like reading our bibles daily, spending time in prayer, going to church, to lifegroup/biblestudy/sunday school are among those things which we associate with an "Evangelical-Bible-Believing-born-again Christian" We may even further be involved as ushers, and childcare workers, volunteering in a variety of service and mission opportunities, even leading people to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior; these are the "do's". Conversely, we also dissociate Christians with certain activites, such as drinking, speeding, cursing, unkindness, hate, and on and on the list of "don'ts" goes.

And so goes the Christian religion: do the activities that are reflective of a believer; bear fruit. Consequently, the underlying point of all the activities (or non activities) is this: if I do the "do's" and refrain from the "don'ts", then I am a fully devoted follower of Christ; a Christian. But is that the point? Is this the message that the bible teaches? Is the fruit the point, or is there more to it?

To be clear, I am not condemning these Christian activities. There is nothing wrong with having bible studies, reading the bible in a year, serving at church, etc. These are wonderful Christian disciplines and activites. However, they are not the point.

One of the essential beliefs of Christianity is that we are saved by grace alone. period. It is impossible to earn our salvation through the doing of works, of "Christian activities." As Christians, we know this; it is hard-wired into our very being. We know that these activities don't save us, but we want to do them, out of a response of what Christ has done for us.

Paul says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10"

And so we go, ever so passionately striving to be that fully devoted follower of Christ, dying to one's self, taking up our cross, and engaging in fruit activities. But the subtlty of all our activity is that we do fruit-like activities to show that we are fully devoted followers of Christ, instead of seeking and knowing the One that produces fruit in us. Remember what Paul says in Galations 5:22: "but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentelness, and self-control. Notice that this fruit is born of the Holy Spirit in us, not of ourselves.

So what's the point? Let's look at what the One we follow said:

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:4-5

What does this mean? It means seek the Lord. Seek to remain in Him. Don't just read the Bible; devour it; meditate on it. Seek His face. Ask him to help you understand what you read. Tell him what you feel when you read His word. Be still; listen. learn what it means to pray without ceasing. Seek to know the Lord Jesus, and to be known by him, for apart from him, we can bear no true fruit.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'
Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers!'" Matthew 7:21-

Serving Him does not replace us knowing Him. Activity does not equal life.

Does this resonate with you? Have you found yourself in seasons where the fruit , not the vine, was the goal?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

the little things

I've recently become very aware that God is calling me to be faithful in the little things; driving the speed limit, picking up a small piece of trash that I dropped, choosing to be truthful when it is easier and more convenient to be decietful. Yes, these are small things that the world around us justifies everyday, but does that make it right? Does the majority rule, or does God rule?

1 John 1:5-7 says "This is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you. God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie, and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin."

You're either walking in the light or your not - it's that simple. There is no gray area with God. Hot or Cold; light or darkness. you choose. Choose to leave the gray. Choose to be in the light.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Idol Talk

I had the opportunity to go to the men's big12 basketball tournament yesterday, and so I had to act on it. I am a huge fan of college basketball, especially OSU. Kinda is akward at first, remembering how to cheer your guts out for your team after you are out of school. I used to go nuts at home games while in Stillwater, yelling 'til my voice was gone.

As I was sitting there, God decided that He would speak to me about what was going on around me, whether I wanted Him to or not. So, in the middle of a very heated and intense bedlam game, I made some observations: when my team did good, myself and our fans errupted with cheers and excitement; when things went wrong, we release resounding sighs and express our openly display our dissappointment. When we thought that our team was being treated unfairly, we let loose our boo's, disgust, and choicest words; when the other team made a mistake or was penalized, we cheered in the face of our opponents' fans. Pretty typical of every sporting event that I have ever been to, unfortuneatly.

Why do we do this?People love their schools, their teams, their players. Why? Because they are a source of pride to their fans when their team does well, and a source of shame when they dissapoint us. They represent our honor, our prestige, our pride, us. If they do well, we do well. If they do poorly, our pride suffers.

Still trying to enjoy a very exciting game, I suddenly was evauluating myself, trying to determine why i was so ticked off that the ref made a horrible call against my team, and why I was soo stinkin happy when they responded with a huge answer bucket. I'll let you ponder these questions for yourself, to try to determine why you do what you do, and ask God if He approves - that is between you and him. But for me, I discovered that I was responding to the game in this way because the team on the floor and the name on their jersey represented my pride, and was nothing short of an idol.

My conviction during a Thursday night baskeball game was not about being a fan of a team or a sport. It was an awareness that there are idols in my life, things that are taking God's place as the number 1 ranking in my life. It is a warning sign to me when my mood and emotions are affected by the outcome of a game - win or loose - or any other event or happening in my life. It is an indicator of what is apparently more important to me. Am I more excited about Jesus changing someone's life or my team winning? Do I get more dissapointed and bothered when a loved one is far from God, or that my team looses?

"Awe come on! lighten up man! It's sports! It's just a game! Besides, everybody knows that idols are made of gold and wood, from the bible stories, not basketball teams or schools - don't be so legalistic!" Sound like what you are thinking? Maybe your right. But if God convicted you of this, would you listen? Or would you justify why it is no big deal, that you're not as big of a fanatic as the other guy?

After dealing with the awareness of this sobering insight, I thought that was the end of God's pruning, at least for one night. Then he smacked me in the face with the next blow. My idols are not confined to athletic events. I have some at work, too. You see, I get really pumped up when I seal a deal on a contract that I was trying to land, or when I'm able to solve some glaring problem on a project. Why? Because it makes me look good to my boss, my peers, and upper management. I want to win, I want to do well, I want to succeed because I worship myself.

It's no wonder that God forbids idolatry, for to worship anything else other than the one true God, is truely a counterfit that leaves us with absolutely nothing in the end. It's the counterfiets that deceive us. They are true-ish beliefs that the world has sold us on. And we bite on that bait, almost every time, often without even knowing it. Proverbs 14:12 says: "there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."

What counterfits, what idols, what lies have you bought into (in the past or currently)? What are the warning signs that you use to identify if something is an idol in your life?
Too important of an issue for us to not answer these kinds of questions. What say you?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bible Study Tool - Blue Letter Bible

A friend of mine referred me to an online Bible study tool - thought I'd share it with you. The site is It is a pretty sophisitated little site, with cross references, maps, timelines, and many other references. It also has a bible reading plan, daily devotionals, and commentaries. I also found a link that specifically deals with sayings that are supposedly in the Bible, but are not actually in the scripture - very interesting!

I have't spent a whole lot of time on it, but I can say that I am very impressed with what I've seen so far. Any time I come across something I thing that is beneficial, I want to put it out there for everyone to know about.

As with anything that I recommend, I want you to let me know if you find something objectionable - i can't catch it all, but want to know if I have inadvertently supported something that is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Check it out and let me know what you think - good, bad, or indifferent.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Throughout the Old Testament, there are stories of individuals who would construct a monument of some kind to memorialize an event or covenant that they wanted to remember. Other times, God would cause his people to write down what he said, or have certain feasts throughout the years so that they would not forget what he had told them or what God had done for them. And what about taking communion - "do this in rememberance of Me."

God knows that we have a tendancy to forget. Forgetting small things is a small thing. Forgetting what God has done for us, and what He has revealed to us is a big thing. Sweat the big stuff.

The other day, I had a moment where I was doubting God - doubting that He was there, that this Christian life I'm living was real. I had suddenly found myself disoriented in my faith, unsure of where I was. I needed to find something constant, something familiar, to help me remember where I was and where I was going. Like a neon sign, there it was, flashing at me, "remember."

It was just a simple reminder, where God had revealed Himself to me in such a way that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that He was real - so real that I thought God himself was literally sitting next to me. (I'll post about this event another time). God had burned that event forever in my memory, creating a spiritual monument, a faith milestone, so that I wouldn't forget what He had shown me.

The panic subsided; the feeling of confusion and doubt had vanished. I remembered who my God is. He was there all along, waiting for me to remember.

What events can you fall back to where God showed up, where He was faithful, where you really understood something about Him, where He proved to you that He was real?

What are the monuments that God has provided in your life? What monument is He constructing right now?


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

method vs message?

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. - 1 John 1:3

I was watching some video clips of some Christian teachers that I follow on YouTube last night, and decided to read some of the comments left by the viewers. Starting off, i expected to read some really great comments, full of insight and encouragement left by other viewers... Instead, i found myself walking through a war zone between mockers and professing Christians.

There was an occasional person seeking truth for some honest questions, but by and large, many of the commenters weren't looking for answers - they were on they attack. As I continued through several pages of comments, I observed several conversations between those slinging accusations and individuals who seemed to be Christ followers. The troubling thing, though, was that often I couldn't tell who was the non-believer and who was the Christian. Respondents lacing their comments with profanity, filled with hatred for the person opposing their view point, condescending remarks - absolutely disgusted by what I was observing.

I had read the verse above today, and couldn't help noticing that it applies to what I observed last night. John writes that the purpose of sharing our faith, what we have seen and heard, is so that others would have fellowship with us and with Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith.

It is extremely important that Christians be not only equipped to give an answer for the hope that we have in the Lord Jesus, but we MUST FINISH WHAT THE TEXT SAYS!

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. - 1 Peter 3:15

...with gentleness and respect. Our method will defeat our message on the battle ground for truth if they are not Christ-centered and Christ-driven. Only a method of sharing and defending our faith consistent with the Gospel we proclaim has any hope of being received and honestly considered by those we intend to reach for Christ. We must not forget that the reason we share and defend our faith is so that others may have fellowship with us, in fellowship with the Lord Jesus - this is our joy as followers of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pride Stinks

Saw a skunk running across the road this morning, thinking how disgusting their stench is. I think God thinks the same thing about our sin, namely pride. I'm sure there's a lesson here, especially about removing the stench when you're sprayed. A bath of humility is the recipe for removing the stench of pride...

Friday, February 20, 2009

check the box

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:5-8

I've been spending the last week in 2 Peter. It is a short read, but packed with a message for already-converted believer. There is so much to say, but I'll stay focused, or at least attempt to do so for this post.

Checking the box
For whatever reason, we seem to have a bent towards checking the box as we go through life. Graduate high school - check. Go to college - check. try half a dozen majors - check. get married, have 2.5 kids, buy a nice car, live in a nice house, get our kids in the right schools - check, check, check, etc. Once we conquer the list, we think that we will have contentment in our lives. Unfortunately, our memories fail us in regard to this lie, just as this lie fails to fulfill us.

Probably the biggest lie we as Christians swallow is that our faith in Christ is limited to a single point in time where we said a magic prayer and gave our life to God, and then we can go on about our life, living any way we please. Ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins and give me eternal life - check. go to church (sometimes or even all the time) - check. Get baptized - check. Say a quick prayer every now and then, especially before dinner - check. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn't offer a check-the-box gospel. it offers a gospel that is a journey, a process, a means that couldn't be farther from checkboxianity.

Event vs. Process
In the verse above, it can be seen that God has a much different idea about what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. You see, asking Christ to be Lord of our lives doesn't end with a prayer asking God to save us; it begins there. Once we confess our sins to God and put our faith in Him to forgive us, we thereby take the first step of the most wonderful journey in all of life. But we will never experience the abundant life that the Lord Jesus promised if we allow ourselves to become ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Building upon foundations
Peter is showing us that there is a progression from one virtue to the next. But these things are not like a badge that we earn like a boy scout; no, they build upon each other. He doesn't say have goodness, knowledge, self-control, etc.; Peter says ADD goodness to faith, ADD knowledge to goodness, ADD self-control to knowledge, etc. Each of these things are correctly exemplified when they are built upon the right preceding foundations. Sure, each of us as followers of Christ can exhibit all of these qualities in our lives, but when built upon each of the preceding foundations, we begin to understand what these virtues truly are.

The greatest of these...
The beauty of it all is that these virtues all build towards the greatest gift, the greatest quality, the greatest virtue of them all: love. Paul echoes these teachings in his own writings, reminding us that of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love. Elsewhere he teaches that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up - point being that love is the greater virtue. Above all this, Paul brings it home, reminding us that our maturity in Christ has absolutely nothing to do with checking the box. In Romans, he writes:

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." - Romans 13:8

Kinda hard to check the box on love. If you must check the box, though, make sure that your pen is always out of ink. That way you can check it again, and again, and again, and....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

more than a picture

Many of us have pictures of the most beautiful places on earth burned into our memory. These are the places that we would love to visit, given the chance. Pristine white sand beaches, clear blue water, majestic snow capped mountains, huge pine trees covering the landscape - the descriptions go on and on. These are the pictures and images that we could stare at for hours, admiring God's craftsmanship; the sheer amazement and beauty of something so wonderful.
Some have the opportunity to visit these places and see them through more than a picture - and all of these will tell you that these places are more brilliant, more captivating, more moving than any picture could hope to capture.
As I have been reading through the new testament, I have caught myself staring (if you will) at the imagery these writers use to describe what a life submitted to Christ looks like. The last few times I have set out to read chapter 2 of 1 Peter, I inevitably find myself retracing my steps through chapter 1, each time slower and slower, catching the beauty contained in every verse. Passages like those in 1 Peter 1:13-21 show what a beautiful thing Jesus did for us by dieing on the cross, and what true life looks like when we follow Him.
But the abundant life that Jesus talked about is not found in staring at a picture of following Jesus; it is found in actually going to these places, living out the things written on these precious pages. Reading and re-reading passages that captivate our minds and warm our spirits, but not taking the steps to apply these teachings is like a person who tries to tell someone that they've been to Mt. Everest just because they saw a picture of it.
Of course, we would never say this to anyone. But often this is how I live my life to Christ. I think in my mind that I am a good Christian, if only because I read my Bible, regardless if I ever apply what I read to my life - absolutely ridiculous.
The beauty described in these pages is limited by words. Not even a picture can tell all that there is to see. We will only truly know how beautiful it is to follow Jesus when we heed his instructions found in scripture, and submit ourselves to God's working in our lives, perfecting and completing the good work He began in us. Only then will we be able to see how beautiful these things, these places truly are.
Don't just stare; journey to visit.

self serving?

"Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angles long to look into these things." 1 Peter 1:10-12

I am in a season of discovering what leadership actually is, and so it is no surprise to myself that I kept reading this passage over and over, not being able to move past it with out considering God's use of it to move me spiritually from where I am.

Leadership is a term that each of us must define. For a long time, I thought of it as a tool people used to manipulate people to do what you wanted them to do; to get them help you complete your goals, your agenda. But the more I learn, the more sure I become that leadership is helping people accomplish those goals that most greatly benefit those being lead (as those that will follow them), not the leader. A true leader will place the needs of those he serves as his first leadership priority, serving them in ways that enable them to accomplish those lofty goals that they aren't able to reach by themselves.

Leadership is truly a powerful tool that enables us to do things that we couldn't do by ourselves. Ironically, most of our world misunderstands what is at the heart of true leadership: servant-hood. Don't believe me? Try taking some notes from the greatest leader that has and will ever live: Jesus Christ.

Is your leadership for the benefit of yourself or others?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

specks and planks

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Luke 6:41-42

Life-long church goers like myself are very familiar with this passage. And like so many other familiar verses, they seem to just pass right on through my ears, not registering with my dense head. No, this wasn't directly what Sunday's message was about, but a simple demonstration at the beginning of the message revealed something about my subconscious opinion of myself. Here's how it goes:

Pastor asks something like this, "everyone look at the person to your left. Now look at the person to your right. In front of you. Now behind you. Which of those is the worst sinner of all?"

Me being ornery and sitting next to my wife decide to point to my wife. Didn't feel too bad about it though, as i found that she was pointing right back at me. Of course everyone laughs; kinda fun to poke some fun at your friends/neighbors/spouse sitting around you. Some bypass the humor and get right to the spiritual answer and point to themselves (you guys are no fun... but you are right).

What was revealing to me was that I didn't even consider myself as a candidate as the worst sinner. Yes, i know he didn't ask us to, but the very essence of being a follower of Christ is acknowledging ones own sin and being absolutely disgusted by it - everyone of us should have pointed to ourselves. But by pointing to someone else, it show that I think of myself as a good person, not a bad sinner...

For whatever reason we are often so consumed with our own self-righteousness that we don't notice the tree sticking out of our own eye, growing all the time because we simply are blind to it. We go through life, thinking we have a few specks in our eyes, but hey, so does everybody, right? So we justify it, saying, I'm not a bad person, or at least not as bad as the guy next to me.

But God uses His word as a mirror and shows us how ridiculous we are to think that we are without sin. If you will let Him, He will bring you to absolute humility and disgust for your trees, your planks, your sin (confessed or otherwise) - and from there... complete restoration. friendship with God. It is absolutely overwhelming to grapple with the idea that our Lord, the creator of life itself, shows us such kindness and love, willing to forsake His Son on the cross so that through His death and His resurrection, we can be forgiven, and have the privilege of calling Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives, and living a life that reflects that belief.

Ask God to help you recognize your planks. But don't stop there. deal with them. Let Jesus change you. Just because you call Jesus your savior doesn't mean you are immune to sin. Let Him search the depths of your heart. And when he shows you what He finds, confess it, turn from it, and find life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Most of us are able to rattle off the top 5 priorities of our lives with little effort. But rare is a person who actually lives according to their own spoken priorities. In my own struggle to live out what I profess to believe, I have asked myself to answer two simple questions:

  1. What MUST I do each day (priority)? - These are the things that are outside my normal activities, like work, meals, getting dressed, etc. These are things that reflect my beliefs and priorities. They require a conscious effort to accomplish.
  2. What things would I LIKE to do today (discretionary)? - These are the things I would like to do after I tend to my priorities, time and resources willing.

Too often, I find myself spending most of my time doing the things that I like to do, but little on the things that I absolutely must do, if my beliefs are to match what I profess. Below, I have provided my answers to these questions, in effort to help me identify those things that steal my time from the things I truly value. Hopefully, these thoughts will encourage you to identify those things which you must do, and differentiate them from the things you would like to do.

What are your priorities? How do you live them out?


  • God
    • Read the Bible. Process it. Pray over what I read. Apply it.
    • Listen for God's calling, prompting throughout my day, asking:
      • What is God trying to teach me?
      • What does God want me to do with/about ___?
      • What does God want me to share with others (time, thought, idea, possession, encouragement)?
  • Wife
    • Show my wife that I love her, in a way that she understands.
    • Show my wife respect and love by the way that I communicate with her (speaking and listening)
    • Intentionally lead my wife to be a fully devoted follower of Christ
  • Children
    • Spend time with my children, giving them attention, listening to them when they talk, loving them in a way that they feel loved by me.
    • Teach my children how to make good and Godly decisions; discipline as needed, full of love
    • Intentionally lead my children to become fully devoted followers of Christ
  • Self
    • Read books, meet with mentors, listen to teachers to develop myself as a:
      • Disciple of Jesus Christ
      • Husband of my wife
      • Father of my children
      • Leader of others
        • Co-workers
        • Life group
        • Life group leaders
      • Friend to my friends
    • Make time for exercise
    • Eat a healthy diet
    • Get enough rest

Discretionary Things:

  • Internet - Checking email, facebook, twitter, blogs, IM, texting, etc.
  • Media - watching TV, movies, music, etc.
  • Tasks - Managing finances, organizing/cleaning up things, home/yard/car maintenance, etc.
  • Hobbies -Disc golf, video games, guitar, ping pong, projects, etc.
  • Work - Go to work early, stay late, homework
  • People - hang out with friends/extended family

So much to say...

I have heard it said that James is considered as the Proverbs of the New Testament in the Bible. As I read it, that statement is justifiably made in my observation. Wasting no time with introductions, James jumps straight into writing a first chapter filled with some of the most profound spiritual insights in all the Bible.

Reading this book, you can imagine that James must have been frantically writing as fast as he could; so much to say, but not able to write fast enough the divinely inspired words that God would use to instruct His people, even those readers of our generation and beyond. Nearly every verse causes the reader's mind to pause for a moment and consider the breavity of a thought that could fill an entire book, and yet compacted into a bite-size verse that the mind will chew on for days on end, savoring every word.

- I'd better stop here, or i will catch myself writting a commentary on the entire book of James. Closing thought: Take time to read and savor the book of James. But don't just read it; apply it (James 1:22-25).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Encouragement from Hebrews

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:23-25

I absolutely love passages like these! they are filled with such profound depth and are life-giving. God uses verses like these in our lives to encourage us, to spur us on in living out the faith that we profess. Text like these do not allow us to make the Bible and our faith dull and plain, but bring us back to the place where we remember what it was like when we first gave our life to Jesus. And so much greater than that, God uses these passages and the trials that we face in life to bring us to exceedingly greater milestones in our faith, filling us with greater peace and understanding and confidence in the One who saves us from our sins, that we cannot help but press on and embrace this life and His calling on our lives with greater passion and zeal than ever before. These are the verses that ought to be burned into our brains, the things that we mumble while we are talking in our sleep, the things that we repeat over and over, so that we use them as a path back to the God who inspired them, who uses them for completing the work that he began in us. Encouraged? If so, encourage others.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


As i started this entry, i found myself jumping around to a lot of significant biblical points, but had a tough time tying them all together. So, i have simply provided those passages that are speaking to me, and filling me with such great hope. It is my prayer that you will take time to allow God to move you as you read these passages and others within the Bible.
"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we posses. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:19-25
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and loose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I am AWESOME at handling criticism

Not really. Actually, i suck at handling criticism. i got a good dose of it at work this week from my boss. but it wasn't one of those 'close the door and sit down' settings where he just rips me a new one - it was passive, sarcastic comments - something that i can't stand; almost as much as being criticized! I would rather have you just tell me to my face what the problem is. it drives me crazy when people obviously have an issue with something, but don't confront the issue. they just let their tone, their attitudes, their non verbal language do the talking, but never bring it up until it finally leads to a huge explosion. (sorry for my rant...).

My reality has been to always answer my critics and be defensive, probably because i think that i am never wrong (another issue that God keeps knocking me over the head with). because of the incident this last week, i spent some time stewing, trying to come up with my last chance say-all farewell speach that told my boss what i thought of him and how he doesn't know what he's talking about. then i started thinking about how i was going to explain to my family that Daddy just lost his job because he can't handle criticism and choked out his boss.

Your boss, your spose, your neighbor and many others offer criticism - some rightfully so, some not. But they are not the only ones that offer criticism. God has a way of criticizing, too. And when He brings something to your attention, there's not much room for honest discussion; He's right, and you're wrong.

The week before, i had finished a chapter in Craig Groeschel's book "Confessions of a Pastor", which just so happened to deal with handling criticism. In the book, Craig provides insight on when you should listen, answer, dismiss, or endure the criticism. I can't thank God enough for leading me to read this information when He did. I am still struggling with criticism, but know i am able to recognize my failures here, and am better equipped to respond in a better way.

do you struggle with criticism? are you defensive? What does God say about how you handle your criticism?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

turning into my parents...

that's pretty embarassing (sorry mom and dad). just realizing that i am a couple of years behind the curve with communication technology. i now have accounts on twitter and facebook, but have no idea how to use the stupid things. not the least bit frustrated by it... oh well. i guess i understand how my parents feel when i try to explain blogging or text messaging. hopefully, one of you web ninjas can take me into you dojo and edumacate me on how to use this stuff. is anybody like me out there, or am i the last one between 20 and 30 years old who isn't connected?? Speak up!

Monday, January 12, 2009

spiritual indigestion

Over the last several weeks, i have been flying through the new testament epistles, soaking up every word, and just enjoying the opportunity to be ministered to by Paul. In nearly every book, he writes in such a way that tells his audience that he truly loves them. Almost effortless, he lines up one encouraging and edifying passage after another. And with such passion! As i read his writings, i notice that so many times, he writes each book as if it were written in one sitting, without letting his pen ever leave the page - from one idea to the next, no time for periods - just get as much God-breathed inspiration on the page as possible! And too often, i catch myself reading the same pace at which Paul writes - which is not a good thing, if you want to chew your food before you swallow, tasting and savoring every morsel, allowing yourself to enjoy it the way it was intended. it's one thing to read in such a way to finish a book; quite another to read until God challenges you with something.

And today, i am suffering from a little bible indigestion. Finishing up 1 Thessalonians, i came to the point where i was simply overwhelmed. Finished 1 & 2 Corinthians. Galatians. Ephesians. Philippians. Colossians. One big bite after another. shoveling one choice bite after another, realizing, "wow! that was great! i need some more of that - wait a minute... what was that that i just ate? I know it was good, but i don't even remember what it tastes like!" As I try to slow down and comprehend what Paul is saying, I only come to realize that in a single bite, i have been swallowing huge banqueting feasts, meant to be eaten slowly - one bite at a time, chewed 30 to 40 times each.

My soul has been acting as my spritual stomach, now suffering from engourgement, and unable to gain any spiritual nourishment because i haven't taken the time to taste my food. "Take your time", i hear God saying. "Have an appetizer. Chew S L O W L Y. Did you taste the spiritual blessing, mixed with a dash of hope, drizzled with peace? it was baked for about an eternity, cooking at about a million-love degrees. Yup - you guessed it. the secret ingredients are mercy and grace. Don't forget to have a drink of the house's choicest wine, grown in the valley of patience and tended to by wisdom and understanding, served in cups of forgiveness. Relax. there's more than enough here for you and all of creation. i'm not running out of spiritual food anytime soon."

When you slow down enough to consider what you're reading, you realize that reading even a whole chapter of certain Paul writtings in one sitting is like processing something with a concentration potent enough to fill VOLUMES of books. And that's where indigestion sets in. Holy cow! i ate way too much! God, i can't deal with so many thoughts, each calling me back to ponder and meditate on every God inspired line. I want to finish everything on my plate, but i know that i can't take another bite until i deal with the single line i just read!

And look at all the food on the table! i can't even see the end of it! How will i ever finish all of this food? One bite at a time Lord, reveal to me what ever it is that you want me to focus on. I know that each bite is filled with so many wonderful ingredients, but which one do you want me to taste right now? Teach me to savor each bite, each chewing motion. Help me not to swallow too soon, so i don't miss the moment where you reveal that flavor that you want me to taste.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Colossians 1:3-14

passage of the day... If this doesn't fire you up, i don't know what will...

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints - the faith and love that spring up from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit." Colossians 1:3-8

(Here's where Paul BRINGS IT!)

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:9-14

Talk about building up the body of Christ! Hard not to get fired up when we see the work that God is doing in us like this.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Contending as one man...

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." Philippians 1:27-30

Christ is not divided; neither can his bride, the church be divided either. "Contend as one man for the faith of the gospel". As a man fights, he is not divided against himself as how he will fight. He will not try to strike a blow while at the same time flee from battle. He makes a decision and every member of his body acts to complete that decision. But if we scatter when we are attacked, this is evidence to our enemy that we are divided, and that we are not one in spirit.

What a awesome display of faith it is to see the body of Christ stand together, advancing the lines of the gospel to the world, and moving forward with one purpose, one spirit, contending as one man. When any member of the body is dealt a blow, the entire body reacts to protect it and restore it; it doesn't say, "too bad for you ear… you should have seen that coming… what? Yeah the eyes can see, but we didn't think it was necessary to tell you to move since we weren't going to be hit… sorry you couldn't see it coming… never mind that we have the gift of sight and have the duty to alert the body when we see an attack coming…" How our enemies will tremble when they see us stand firm when even the smallest, seemingly most insignificant member is attacked. No fear. No running away. Standing firm; wearing the armor of Christ, letting the Lord fight for us, for the battle belongs to Him.

Our faith is not in a pastor, preacher, prophet, apostle, or any other man - it is in Christ alone. Yes, we are truly blessed to be shepherded by those leaders whom God gives us, but even if God allows that shepherded to be taken from his flock, the flock will stand firm, for our Good Shepherd is with us, and fights for us, uniting us in one spirit, realizing that to die is gain, and to live is Christ!

And just as we know that we have been saved by His grace through faith which he freely gives us, we know that he has also chosen us to suffer for the sake of the cross. What a blessing it is to know that the world hates us because of Christ, for by their disapproval of us for the stand we take in Christ, we know that we are receiving what is due to those who conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chains for Christ

"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." Philippians 1:12-14

Apparently, Paul was in prison when he wrote this. It appears that Paul thought that his audience knew he was in chains, and that may have been a source of discouragement or despair for this church. But Paul, seeing the good that God was working through this seemingly massive blow to the ministry that God was working through Paul, goes on to note that the gospel is still being forwarded on, even though Paul was in prison.

What wonderful perspective that Jesus gave Paul in his poor circumstance. What man intended for evil, God intended for good. Faith and hope are mere lip service if they are not tested. You can almost picture the ear to ear grin that must have been on God's face when he saw Paul respond the way he did. He must have thought something like, "that's my boy", or "Paul, you freakin stud! You get it, man!"

And to spur on Paul's hope, God let's Paul see the affect of his attitude and perseverance: the whole palace guard knew that a mere man that was imprisoned for sharing his faith, was filled with even more hope and drive to continue sharing the life giving, life changing, life saving message of Jesus Christ. It must have been something to see the look on the guards' faces, saying "what the heck is wrong with that guy? We just chained him up, and he is all the more driven and filled with unwavering hope for the cause that imprisoned him." It is likely that the guards beat him and spat upon him regularly, mocking him and the message he proclaimed. And Paul could have burned with hate, wanting God to strike them all dead or infect them with some forsaken disease or illness. But Paul, being filled with the Holy Spirit, most probably had great compassion for them, often praying something similar to what Jesus prayed on the cross: "father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And because of Paul's attitude and kindness towards those that mocked him and abused him, the whole palace guard knew that the faith that this man was imprisoned for was the real deal.

When you are faced with adversity, in chains, does the world look on and say, "Wow. Something is definitely different about this guy. His faith; His Jesus is the real deal. How can someone forgive and love like that? Who can possess such love, joy, peace, and hope when something like this happens? I wonder if the Jesus that this guy believes in can change me too."

Too often, my life answers that question with the same pathetic answer: " just another guy; flips out like everyone else when something bad happens. Just tune me out when I start asking you to come to church with me; You can be just as good as me by staying home and watching the Cowboys play on Sundays. See? If Christians can cuss and talk bad about others and complain about every bad thing that happens to them, then what makes them so different from everyone else? You don't need to get right with God… You are just as good as this guy; you are good enough, surely God will let you in to Heaven, won't He?"

Because of Paul simply living out the faith he professed and persevering with the hope of Jesus Christ, others took note. His fellow brothers, who were probably greatly troubled by Paul's imprisonment, now were galvanized to carrying out the gospel with immense passion and conviction. They were no longer imprisoned with the fear of prison or chains or even death. They were empowered with a Spirit-filled boldness and courage that stems from knowing the One that saves, and knowing that Jesus, the Christos, came and died for all, so that if anyone would believe in him, he would not perish, but have life everlasting.

Are you in chains for Christ? Is the whole palace guard taking note?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Thanksgiving & Prayer

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:3-6

It is interesting to me how God used Paul in such an amazing way during his time on earth. He became all things to all people in order that he might win some to Christ. He was a man who fearlessly preached the gospel, who continually asked God to increase his boldness in proclaiming the gospel, for which he was an ambassador in chains. He proclaimed the freedom in Christ to the Jews, and reflected the light of Jesus to the lost. He loved so greatly - not as the world today defines love; a mere warm feeling of affection, but in sacrificing the opinions of others on the alter of truth, so that all might repent of their sins and call Jesus the Lord of their life. These things and many other Godly characteristics are clearly communicated in his writings, but the thing that stands out the most to me as i read is that he was devoted to praying for the body of Christ.

Kinda hard to miss - nearly every piece of writing by Paul in the new testament has a portion devoted to thanksgiving and prayer within the first chapter. In Ephesians Paul writes:

"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." Ephesians 1:15-19a

Similar life-giving edification is found in Colosians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, & Philemon. Paul was clearly a man who prayed.

Paul prayed for the edification of the body of Christ - his fellow brothers in Christ, his life group, his Sunday School class, his friends and family back home where he grew up, his co-workers - presumably, Paul prayed for every person in whom he had relationship with - continually.

Do you pray like this?

I don't.

Should we? (rhetorical question...)

Lord Jesus, thank you for revealing yourself to us in Your word. Thank you for Paul and the way you greatly used him to boldly proclaim the gospel that has brought us life in You. Burden our hearts for one another, so that we would continually pray for one another, searching for ways to build one another up and strengthen each other as Your Church.

- as a side note, i write based on my observations from reading and from time with God. These entries are most assuredly NOT exhaustive on the topics for which I write, but are highlights on the things that God is making plain to me. If you have other insights that can be plainly drawn from the Word, please share them with me, so that i too can learn through what God has revealed in scripture. With each tour of the new testament, i have discovered that this Holy Book given to us will never be mastered by any. This is a great source of joy and hope for me, for God continues to us His Word to draw me to Him, so that I might explore and treasure the marvels of this Book, and equip myself for God's calling on my life... I digress... :)